Usually, we only know it from winter: covering the horse. But it can also be useful in summer – especially when there are a lot of annoying mosquitoes and other vermin on the way. A fly sheet for the horse can help here. We reveal everything you need to know!
The Flysheet – Useful Help or Senseless Intervention?
Again and again one hears different opinions about the use of the flysheet – if the horses already have natural fly protection, one does not have to help artificially. On the other hand, the other side argues that the mane and tail of competition horses are often trimmed and that the flysheet compensates for this unnatural shape. We now turn to the question of whether or not it makes sense in your case.
Natural Fly Protection: Tail and Mane
Before we get to artificial aid, let’s briefly talk a little about the horse’s natural fly protection – the tail and the mane. Because their properties make it clear whether it even makes sense to use a flysheet. If the mane and tail are long enough and left natural, they serve as a kind of fly curtain. Mosquitoes, horseflies, and other vermin do not find any (sensitive) place where they can settle. The flexible tail also scares away the annoying flies from horseback.
In addition to hair, horses also have other defense mechanisms. This includes, above all, the targeted muscle twitching by which they scare away the vermin. Scratching with the rear hooves also keeps the stinging and biting pests away. Last but not least, it is the extensive bathing in the sand, which helps the animals to keep annoying insects at a distance – and to pleasantly scratch existing bites.
The Flysheet for the Horse
To complement the natural fly protection, fly rugs can be the perfect companion. Above all, they shield the area of the upper body from flies, which is otherwise almost defenseless. The most important thing here (as with all horse blankets) is that it fits well – it must neither chafe nor be so loose that the horse can slip it off itself.
Does My Horse Need a Flysheet?
As already mentioned, the answer to this question depends on the environment and the individual circumstances. In general, however, it can be said that a fly sheet makes sense in any case if you find that your horse can no longer rest in the pasture and is constantly occupied with repelling insects. Especially with horses that are kept alone and have no friends who can scratch their teeth for a moment, the blanket is a welcome companion.
By the way: If you are plagued by flies while riding (e.g. along the water or through the forest), a so-called fly exercise blanket is also a good investment. This makes riding much more relaxed.
Disguised as a Zebra
Even if animal patterns are always on the rise in the fashion world, the zebra crossings on the flysheet have a different purpose. Have you ever wondered why zebras, with their short mane and thin tail, are so little plagued by flies? The answer to this is proven to be the zebra crossings that seem to confuse the vermin. The zebra-look blankets achieve the same effect and successfully repel flies – so the horse can stand unmolested in the pasture and paddock even in summer.
Protection for the Clever Mind
The vermin also particularly likes to settle on the horse’s eye. Here they want to steal some of the tear fluid that is constantly leaking out. Unfortunately, they often leave germs behind, which can lead to serious eye problems. So-called fly masks, which are often combined directly with the fly rugs, provide a remedy here. They consist of a very finely woven, black grid that covers the eyes (and ears). It is designed so that the horses can see unhindered, but there is no way for flies to enter.
Alternatively, the long-known fringed headbands are also suitable. These are simply attached to the bridle or halter and, in addition to being practical, can also look really stylish. In contrast to the fly mask, they restrict the field of visionless, but also do not offer such final protection – you can actually see them as a kind of extension of the mane that protrudes onto the forehead.
Which of the two variants is really the better is popular and much discussed. Basically, however, it depends on your individual taste and experience.
What Else Can Be Done to Protect Against Flies
In addition to the full-body fly rug, a clean environment also helps keep flies away. On the one hand, this applies to the de-paddling of the paddock, the pasture, and the stable, because it is the horse manure that attracts vermin. On the other hand, it also helps to hose down the horse itself after the work is done – the fly-attracting sweat is removed directly. Another plus point of this measure? The shower is a welcome cool-down on hot days.
If the insect plague is simply no longer under control, it is worth considering leaving the horse in the less susceptible stable during the day and putting it out on the pasture at night. But this should be the exception. In most cases, fly rugs work well on horses.